Advanced Guide to SEO: Magento Search Engine Optimization

June 29, 2015 by Leah Na'aman

In our Beginners’ Guide to SEO, we discussed the first steps to optimizing your SEO by modifying your site’s URLs, headings, categories, products, images and CMS pages.

In this guide we will walk you through various, more advanced methods you can implement to optimize your eCommerce store’s SEO. Here we will dive headfirst into the intricacies of advanced search engine optimization, namely improving site speed, creating an XML sitemap and dealing with duplicate content.

Upping Site Speed

Page load time may not be the most important factor when it comes to SEO rankings, but it definitely is a factor. Furthermore, it can affect how many pages a search engine bot will spider on your site on any given day, and it can also affect how many people stick around on your site instead of exiting in favor of another one. If you’re not sold on the importance of site speed, we’ve compiled some convincing calculations that examine how slow loading times and revenue losses are interconnected.

Magento is a resource-heavy system, so it isn’t always the fastest by default. In order to increase your Magento speed, invest in a good dedicated host and quality server configuration. You should also enable caching, if it’s possible in your edition of Magento.

You should also work to keep a handle on the number of external files on your site. The more files that have to be download by your users’ browsers for a page to load properly, the more connections their browser has to make to the server, and the more time it takes for a page to load. Magento already combines most of the JavaScript files by default, however you’ll have to work to combine the content of five of the six stylesheet files into one for faster load times. Consider the Fooman Speedster module which caches, combines and compresses JavaScript and CSS files.

In extreme cases, these steps may not be enough to get your site rocking at the speed at which you’d like. Consider using an external CDN to host your product and category images. ImageCDN is a free Magento extension that enables this.

You can also check out our previous post about Optimizing Magento Performance to research more helpful methods for increasing site speed.


Creating an XML sitemap

Providing an XML site map is a straightforward way to let search engine bots know which of your site’s URLs are available for crawling and where your content is. This isn’t necessarily something that helps your rankings, but it will get your site indexed faster.

To create an XML sitemap, go to Catalog > Google Sitemap > Add Sitemap. From there, choose a filename and path, then save and generate. To get the search engine crawlers to pay attention to your sitemap, insert ‘Sitemap:’ in your robots.txt file.

Tweaking Magento Template

Here are a couple of things to consider modifying in your Magento templates, whether they’re default templates, premium templates, or completely custom ones.

Regarding heading usage, your store’s logo will automatically be tagged as an <h1> heading by default across every page on your site. It’s really better for your SEO if you can have the logo tagged as an <h1> on just your home page, and an <h3> on every other page. Instead of wasting your <h1> headline on your logo on your internal pages, you can reserve it for keyword-rich content titles, like product names on product pages or category names on category pages. On category pages, use the <h1> heading for the category name, and <h3> for product names.

Once you’ve got a handle on that you’ll want to clean up some of the slight overuse of headings that come standard with Magento. Either nix the headings on the side columns, or make them not only relevant to the store but also keyword-rich. Honestly, you’re probably better off just changing all <h4> tags that are in <div class=”head”> to <strong> tags.

If your template files are cluttered up with all kinds of CSS and JavaScript, you’ll want to see if you can move it to external CSS and JavaScript files. By keeping your templates pretty trim, you will ensure that users can cache files on the first load.


The Shoppimon advantage

We also highly recommend using a Magento store monitoring service likeShoppimon. Shoppimon experiences the site the way your actual customers do, providing valuable information on site speed, slowdowns, security issues, and store issues, even third party widgets that are malfunctioning. Additionally, Shoppimon gives you valuable information on how to fix these problems. By eliminating the store errors and issues that Shoppimon identifies, you’ll be able to keep your bounce rate and exit rate under control.

As a bonus feature, Shoppimon will notify you if your meta keywords are not set, an essential tool in the SEO optimization process!


Take a deep breath

That’s it. That’s the definitive, comprehensive, exhaustive guide to what you need to do in order to optimize your Magento store’s SEO. In the hands of a capable Magento developer, this stuff is child’s play, only admittedly slightly less fun.

From basic steps like optimizing your product and category pages and giving your images good alt tags and names, to improving your Magento store’s performance for faster site speeds, to using a store monitoring software like Shoppimon to ensure that your users are having the best possible site experience, everything you need to do to improve your search engine rankings is right here.

So be sure to make use of Shoppimon not just for your SEO, but for the sake of your store’s overall performance and success. Let us know what you think and comment what’s worked for you when it comes to amping up your Magento store’s SEO!



Ravit Sasson

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